Time Warner Should Have Sold Itself to Rupert Murdoch

Douglas A. McIntyre

Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) shareholders and its board should be kicking themselves. After CEO Jeffery Bewkes gave horrible guidance, shares fell 8% to $70 Wednesday. Rupert Murdoch of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (NASDAQ: FOXA) offered $85 per share in August of last year, and withdrew the offer when Time Warner’s board refused it. Nothing on the horizon suggests Bewkes made the right decision. Time Warner has no divisions that are likely to post explosive growth.

At the time Murdoch broke off the “negotiation,” he wrote:

We viewed a combination with Time Warner as a unique opportunity to bring together two great companies, each with celebrated content and brands. Our proposal had significant strategic merit and compelling financial rationale and our approach had always been friendly. However, Time Warner management and its Board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling. Additionally, the reaction in our share price since our proposal was made undervalues our stock and makes the transaction unattractive to Fox shareholders. These factors, coupled with our commitment to be both disciplined in our approach to the combination and focused on delivering value for the Fox shareholders, has led us to withdraw our offer.

Time Warner revenue rose 5% to $6.6 billion in the third quarter. Net income rose from $967 million in the same period last year to $1.04 billion.

As the company disclosed the information about the quarter, Bewkes said:

We had another very good quarter, with Revenues up 5% and strong growth in Adjusted Operating Income, which totaled $1.8 billion. Our revenue growth was led by Warner Bros. and Home Box Office, and illustrated how our investments in great content have been paying off in our traditional television businesses, as well as in newer areas such as videogames. In September, HBO received a record 43 Primetime Emmy Awards, the most of any network for the 14th consecutive year. That included 12 awards for Game of Thrones, setting a record for a series in a single year.

Maybe he was just kidding about a “very good quarter.”

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